Project 5 – Research Translation Activities


Electrochemical reactor for groundwater treatment

Project 5’s long-term goal is to develop novel, sustainable, solar-powered and environmentally-friendly electrochemical technologies for remediation of contaminated groundwater. To this end, we are developing technologies that use solar panels to generate low direct electric current through electrodes in wells to manipulate groundwater chemistry by electrolysis. 

The Project 5 Specific Aims are:

  1. To measure and improve simultaneous transformation of trichloroethylene (TCE) and a mixture of contaminants by electrochemically-induced reduction and oxidation in groundwater
  2. To investigate the pathways of electrochemically-induced transformation of individual contaminants and contaminant mixtures and their associated effects on groundwater toxicity
  3. To design and measure the performance of the process using field-scale testing.

Research Translation Activities

Since 2012, Project 5 has presented its technology achievements at Northeastern University’s Research, Innovation, and Scholarship Expo (RISE). RISE is an annual event, where students and faculty members showcase use-inspired research and innovative solutions developed by the Northeastern community. Project 5 presented at the Symposium on Water Innovation in Massachusetts (SWIM) in 2013 and 2015, held at Northeastern (read more here). SWIM, organized by the New England Water Innovation Network and Northeastern University, brought together international water experts and leaders to learn about advances in water technology and discuss advances expected in the coming years. In June 2013, Project 5 co-hosted the 12th International Symposium on Electrokinetic Remediation (EREM2013). The annual EREM Symposium provides a venue to present and discuss recent developments in electrokinetic and electrochemical remediation to help us face the major environmental contamination challenges everywhere. The Symposium brought together experts from 22 countries all over the world (read more here). In May 2014, Prof. Akram Alshawabkeh (PROTECT Co-director and Project 5 leader) presented invited plenary about PROTECT at IAP2014 in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. In February 2015, Prof. April Gu (Project 5 Investigator) talked at Harvard School of Public Health where she described the concept and technology of toxicogenomics and explained the use of the quantitative toxicogenomics approach for toxicity assessment of environmental pollutants and water quality monitoring.


During summer 2013, Project 5 hosted local high school students and a teacher as part of Northeastern Center for STEM Education’s summer programming (read more here). Starting in July of 2015, Project 5 will host and sponsor two NU ROUTES scholars. The objective of Research Opportunities for Undergraduates: Training in Environmental Health Sciences (ROUTES) is to expose undergraduates from underrepresented minorities to the field of environmental health through hands-on research, mentoring and community outreach activities. In addition to completing a Co-op project, ROUTES scholars will attend seminars and conferences relating to their field of interest, and participate in an alternate spring break week focused on environmental health.

Technology Application

As a joint effort with Project 4, the goal is to establish communication with the USEPA Caribbean Division to locate the contaminated sites in Puerto Rico where technology developed by Project 5 can be tested. At the beginning of 2015, we started establishing collaborations with consulting, engineering, construction, and operations companies in Boston area to support and improve the implementation of the technology for the treatment of the contaminated sites.